Book Review: Michael Smith’s “Family Meals” and a Recipe for Weekend Pancakes

Posted by: on Aug 13, 2014 | No Comments
Michael Smith, Family Meals

Family Meals
Chef Michael Smith
Publication: August 5, 2014, Penguin Canada

Publisher’s Description:

Family Meals features 100 recipes straight from Michael’s home kitchen – his passion for real, homemade food and his love for simple, healthy cooking comes through in every recipe. On top of amazing meals for Breakfast & Brunch, Simple Salads, Soups, Stews & Casseroles, you’ll also find ideas for Family Meals in Minutes, Cook Ahead, Meatless Mondays, Slow Cookers & Pressure Cookers, Lunchbox & Snacks – and of course every family’s favourite – Sweets & Treats!

Michael has also included easy and helpful top ten tips for Family Cooking (“Begin by Shopping Together), Weekday Meals (“Plan Ahead”), Tidying Up (“Clean as You Go”), Easy Snacks (“Pita Pizza”), and Lunchbox Ideas (“Hand Fruit”) all designed to keep your family kitchen running smoothly.

With beautiful full-colour photography and easy-to-follow instructions for every recipe, it’s simple to try some of Michael’s favourites, such as Weekend Pancakes, Nacho Burgers, Old World Chicken Cacciatore, Special Shrimp Fried Rice, Tortilla Lasagna and Boston Cream Cupcakes. Family Meals is the must-have cookbook for families to enjoy cooking and eating healthy, delicious food together.


My Review:

I have to be honest and say that I don’t own any of Chef Michael Smith’s other cookbooks. However, I am SO glad Penguin Canada offered me the opportunity to own and review a copy of his latest!

Michael Smith’s Family Meals is jam packed with some amazing recipes that are family friendly and delicious, but the best part of this book is that he provides ideas on how the family can all get together to prepare some of these meals! It is such a simple concept, but one that is so appreciated by this mom of a 2.5 year old who loves to help out in the kitchen despite her small size!

There are so many amazing recipes that I want to try out in this cookbook: from the healthier Barley Kale Tabbouleh to the flavourful Chili Cornmeal Crusted Salmon with Avocado Salsa to the downright genius Nacho Burgers!

We decided to start with something my daughter absolutely LOVES: pancakes! BUT we opted to make it an even more special meal by doing breakfast-for-dinner! My brother was in from out of town, and my daughter got to help prepare supper, spend time with her funcle (fun uncle for those not in the know), her favourite meal, and a FEAST for dinner (complete with breakfast potatoes, meats, and juice). She was in heaven, and so were we because Chef Smith’s “Weekend Pancakes” are absolutely delicious! (My munchkin gobbled up 4 full-size pancakes!)

I truly hope you all enjoy these “Weekend Pancakes” (whether on the weekend or as a breakfast-for-dinner weeknight meal) as much as we did!

Weekend Pancakes

The Recipe:

“Weekend Pancakes”

Serves 4-6, easily doubled


Kid 1: The Dry Ingredients

1 cup (250mL) of unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup (250mL) of whole wheat flour

1 cup (250mL) of quick-cooking rolled oats

2 tablespoons (30mL) of baking powder

1 teaspoon (5mL) of cinnamon or nutmeg

½ teaspoon (2mL) of salt


Kid 2 or parent: the wet ingredients

2 expertly cracked eggs

2 cups (500mL) of any milk (dairy or otherwise)

2 tablespoons (30mL) of vegetable oil or melted butter, plus more for the pan

2 tablespoons (30mL) of honey

1 tablespoon (15mL) of pure vanilla extract


While the kids get out bowls and measure the wet and dry ingredients, heat your largest, heaviest skillet or griddle or medium-high heat. Gas, electric, induction or campfire- strive for that magical mark just past halfway, where food sizzles and browns without burning.

Share the whisk so you don’t have to wash two of them. First whisk the dry ingredients together, then give the wet team a turn. Switch to a wooden spoon and gradually stir the wet into the dry, letting everybody stir the works a bit and not worrying whether the batter will be mixed wrong. Just make sure the batter is evenly combined.

Coat your hot pan with a swirl of vegetable oil. Spoon in the batter, filling the pan with any size or shape of pancakes. Cook until the bottom of every last pancake is golden brown before flamboyantly flipping the flapjacks. Continue cooking for a few minutes longer until the pancakes are firm. If need be, keep warm in a 200F  (100C) oven while you repeat with the remaining batter, dealing pancakes like you’re working the Vegas strip. Devour with lots of decadently melting butter and of course a long pour of real maple syrup- none of that Auntie-artificial corn syrup stuff for these high-grade pancakes! Serve and share!

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